Veterans’ Letter to President Kovind: Some Deny, Others Endorse

Veterans’ Letter to President Kovind: Some Deny, Others Endorse

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Video Editor: Vishal Kumar

Amid the controversy over some veterans in the armed forces having distanced themselves from a letter purportedly written to President Ram Nath Kovind over "politicisation of the military", a few of the officers who The Quint spoke to have asserted their endorsement of the letter.

The letter in question, which slammed the politicisation of the armed forces in the election season, surfaced on Friday, 12 April, with the “endorsement” over 150 armed forces veterans, including former army, navy and air force chiefs. However, hours after it came out, a few of the veterans denied being part of the movement, including General SF Rodrigues and Air Chief Marshal NC Suri.

General SF Rodrigues, mentioned as Number 1 in the list of those who endorsed the letter, served as the Army Chief from 1990-1993. Meanwhile, NC Suri was the IAF chief from 1991-1993, and has been mentioned as Number 8 in the list of the signatories.

Also Read : Debate | Is the Income Tax Dept Being Politicised Before LS Polls?

‘Cold Feet’

Speaking to The Quint, Major Harsha Kakkar, who is Number 31 on the list of signatories in the letter, said that he did have a look at the letter and his consent was indeed taken. On the officials distancing themselves from it, he said:

“It is their opinion. I have nothing to say on that... I also got the letter and they asked me whether I wanted to be a signatory and I said yes.”
Major Harsha Kakkar to The Quint

Air Vice Marshal Kapil Kak (Retd), listed as Number 43 among those who endorsed the letter to the President, also asserted his endorsement of the letter, saying that due consent was taken from him over the same.

Meanwhile, Major Priyadarshi Chowdhury, who is signatory Number 152 of the letter, indicated to The Quint that the officers who have distanced themselves have "developed cold feet".

When asked about how the letter came to be and how it was endorsed, he pointed that the consent was taken in form of emails to which the veterans replied.

“There was a draft which was drafted by us and seven-eight of us circulated it to our groups... and asked for endorsements in concurrent. Once we received the endorsements in concurrent to the draft, we put their names there. It was not a one-man effort...”
Major Priyadarshi Chowdhury to The Quint

Chowdhury also put out a series of tweets with screenshots of emails claiming there is proof of the endorsements of officials who have distanced themselves.

Politicisation of Forces Unprecedented?

When asked about the contents of the letter and whether the "politicisation of the Army" that it talks about is unprecedented, AVM Kapil Kak told The Quint:

“Yes, it has happened before [but] in an isolated manner. [But this is] Unprecedented because there are actions after actions, not just one. And these are at the topmost level. Here you have a CM of a state coming in, you have the PM making statements... So this has not happened before and all that we are talking about is ruling party. We have said ruling party. We have not made any bones... [But] we have nothing to do with both the Congress and BJP.”
Air Vice Marshal Kapil Kak to The Quint

He also lamented how the various institutions that "stood their ground like a hard rock since Independence" are being "destroyed brick by brick", citing the cases of the CBI and the Election Commission.

Meanwhile, Major Harsha Kakkar took the view that while the current situation may not be "unprecedented", it has been "building up", as he pointed that such politicisation is not being carried out just by the BJP but all parties.

On expecting any action to come out of the letter to the President, which was also marked to the Chief Election Commissioner, Kakkar said:

“I wouldn’t expect action. But I would expect an advice to be sent, saying ‘Please desist from this’.”
Harsha Kakkar to The Quint

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